French magnate François Pinault restores the historic customs house as a venue for contemporary art. Tadao Ando comes up with a design for a Venice suspended in the sea, combining historical memory and innovation.
François Pinault, the French businessman and magnate, chose the Dogana da Mar as the location for the new Punta della Dogana Contemporary Art Center. The original version dates from the 15th century. Currently it is being restored under the supervision of Tadao Ando, who began by restoring Palazzo Grassi and is now continuing his work in Venice. A common thread runs through the old buildings he restores, never exaggerating, with an ever- fresh, different approach, giving them a contemporary function and appearance. The book tells the story of the ‘conservative but unblinkered’ restoration work conducted by the Japanese architect, but also looks in depth at the beginnings of the project. It is regarded as the child of a ‘father’ (‘without whom it would not be possible’, in the words of Renaissance architect Filarete), namely the man who commissioned it, and a ‘mother’, the architect who created it. Ando has been restrained in his approach to the Punta della Dogana, conserving the strong character of the building and respecting the original architectural features. In keeping with the past and in line with the present, Ando has designed alternating reinforced concrete baffles which split up the exhibition space and, in contrast, highlight the materials and features of the original building. The book, beautifully illustrated with photographs showing the gradual development of the project right up to its completion, contains interviews with the commissioner and the architect. The vision of contemporary art and architecture in the modern world finds a useful and coherent application in the work of Tadao Ando and Pinault’s new exhibition in Venice which, with the inauguration of the new gallery, will become its permanent home.